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Wishmaster: The Prophecy Fulfilled
Reviewed by Jason Myers, © 2002

Format: Movie
By:   Chris Angel (director) and John Benjamin Martin (writer)
Genre:   Horror
Released:   October 22, 2002
Review Date:   October 23, 2002
Audience Rating:   R
RevSF Rating:   2/10 (What Is This?)
If you're considering watching Wishmaster: The Prophecy Fulfilled, you're either a fan of the series, a movie reviewer, or a glutton for punishment.

Guess which one I am?

I remember enjoying the first film, with its cavalcade of horror movie stars (Robert Englund a.k.a. Freddy, Kane Hodder a.k.a. Jason Vorhees, Tony Todd a.k.a. The Candyman, and Angus Scrimm a.k.a. The Tall Man from Phantasm), but it was nothing that demanded a sequel, let alone three (count 'em. Three) direct-to-video sequels.

The concept of the films is this: The Djinn are trapped in the space between worlds. The person who awakens a Djinn will be granted three wishes. Once the third wish is granted, the Evil Brotherhood of the Djinn will be released into the world, which is presumably a bad thing. Since the Wishmasters are horror movies, the body count has to be kept high, so, while the Djinn is waiting around to grant three wishes to "the waker" -- the person who released him from the gem that he inhabits (I guess lamps are passÈ) -- he also grants one wish a piece to the random people he meets, and then takes their souls in exchange. Invariably those wishes are worded in such a way that allows the Djinn to dispose of the wishers in a creatively gory fashion.

Now, you'd think that after several thousand years, someone would have actually got their three wishes granted. We've seen two Djinn in the series (Andrew Divoff in the first two, and John Novak in the second two), and conceivably there are more. But, well, it's pretty much the Djinn's fault that they've never managed to free the rest of their kind from eternal imprisonment, because they seem to have this compulsive pathological need to goad people (and often these people are friends of "the waker") to make wishes, and then grant them in a way that leaves a bloody path of destruction. This, at the very least, is a bit of a distraction from the Djinn's main goal, and, at worst, makes it a lot more likely that someone will figure out what's going on before the third wish is granted.

This Wishmaster starts out with a lot of promise. The Djinn (SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH) takes on the form of the waker's possible love interest, Steven Verdel. So he gets a gold star for sneakiness. The first two wishes are granted pretty quickly, because the waker, Lisa, doesn't realize that her wishes have been fulfilled through supernatural means. Then Lisa makes her third wish. "I wish I could love you for who you really are." Which makes things interesting, because the 'you' in her wish is someone who appears to be Steven Verdel, but is in fact a slimy denizen of a hell-dimension. It's a world-class catch 22. And from there, the film could have gone in all sorts of directions. A romantic comedy about an evil being trying to learn about human love. A truly horrifying interpretation of the Beauty and the Beast paradigm. A look at the very fine line between manipulation and the more romantic concept "winning someone's heart."

On some level, the film wants to be all these things, butÖ well, it is a Wishmaster movie, and as such, it can no more escape its destiny than a Djinn can pass up a chance to turn someone's innocent wish into a pun-laced deathtrap.

The rising action of the film centers on the wary love-hate triangle-shaped interaction between Djinn Verdel, Lisa, and Lisa's estranged boyfriend, Sam. It gets points for that. It also gets points for a good opening sequence and an even better opening song, for the surprisingly effective performance by Michael Trucco as Djinn Verdel, and for the subtle creepiness of the "I wish someone would kiss me like that" wish. It's all kind of interesting until about halfway in, when the movie finally gets to the good stuff, and by "the good stuff" I mean the usual crap that you expect from a "guy in a slimy rubber suit makes with the carnage" movie.

For me, the movie started losing points with lame "Killer Sex" sequence (I'll leave that to your imagination, since you'll probably imagine something a lot more interesting than the filmmakers did), and it just kept hemorrhaging points after that. The next scene takes place in a strip club. Yeah, I suppose that it sort of makes sense in the context of the story, but that's not the real reason that the scene takes place in a strip club. The real reason is, there hasn't been any nudity for 15 or 20 minutes, and the natives are getting restless. I'm not averse to nudity in movies, especially when the movie is telling a great story (Brotherhood of the Wolf and Eyes Wide Shut, for example). But, two minutes into the strip club sequence, and I'm starting to feel as disillusioned as a young director who thinks he's making an "erotic thriller", when , in fact, he's pushing out a celluloid turd to add to the compost heap of late-night pay cable. Not that Wishmaster: The Prophecy Fulfilled is as bad as those. No, my own personal version of hell would be an eternity of being subjected to an endless parade of low-budget thrillers that incorporate words like "blue", "sin", "night", and "obsession" into the title.

In any case, the strip club sequence is followed by scenes of the Djinn monster in broad daylight. Which is a big mistake, because, while he wasn't particularly scary before, at least he still had some measure of dignity. Now he just looks like a guy in a rubber suitÖ and, is thatÖ is he wearing boxing trunks? So the Djinn has a sword fight with some ruthless angel guy, and the fight choreography isn't so bad, but the scene is laughable. At one point, the Djinn jumps up to avoid a low sword slash, and it looks likeÖ well, it looks like what it is, which is a guy trying clumsily to overcome the excess mass imposed upon him by countless pounds of sculpted rubber.

Then there's the matter of this angel with a sword. (SPOILERS AHEAD) He gets summoned after Lisa makes her third wish, which is terribly poor planning on the part of the angels. Why not come to earth after the second wish is granted at least? It seems pointless to come into the world after the third wish is spoken, since 99.999% of wishes aren't going to involve a wacky wish-granting paradox. If it weren't for the fact that Lisa's wish is a conundrum, the Djinn would have been able to grant the third wish and release his kind into the world long before the angel had time to get there. I mean, he doesn't even have wings. He has to walk to Lisa's place of employment from whatever mystical statue he jumped out of. It seems like a plot hole, but I know the answer: the angels are even dumber than the Djinn, and the filmmakers are dumber than them both.

Top it all off with a "the house is melding with the realm of the Djinn" sequence that basically involves people wearing rubber claws and face masks pushing through pre-made holes in the wall like rent-a-spooks employed by your town's annual Halloween haunted house. And then there's the fact that, (SPOILER) though the movie is subtitled The Prophecy Fulfilled, it really should have been called Wishmaster: The Prophecy is Almost-But-Not-Quite Fulfilled, Because Fulfilling the Prophecy Would Have Required a Bigger Budget

The thing is, there's a place in the world for the cheesy kind of horror that involves nasty puns and gruesome deaths where blood spurts like a geyser from a tube hidden in the character's clothing. I got a chuckle out of several things, like what the Djinn does when a guy muses "I'd sell my soul to be a pimple on her ass." And the line "God is not invited to this party, Sam" is one of the best additions I've heard to the now cliched tradition of having a good character say something with the word "God", "Jesus", or "Heaven" in it, to which the evil guy responds with some variation on "Heaven has nothing to with it."

And it's not that you can't mix character development with gore. It's that Wishmaster: The Prophecy Fulfilled was mixed poorly, has a few rotten ingredients, and was only half-baked.

My recommendation: Watch the first 45 minutes, then turn it off and make up your own ending.

DVD Wishes and Caviar Screams

Wishmaster: The Prophecy Fulfilled features not one, but two commentary tracks. Listening to the first gave me an appreciation for all the hard work and sweat that goes into creating a made-for-video (not just direct-to-video, but made-for-video) feature. The director, Chris Angel, had only 16 days of principle photography for The Prophecy Fulfilled, and he had just finished shooting Wishmaster 3 the previous week. On the commentary, Angel provides us with tongue-in-cheek pearls of wisdom like "there has to be a shower scene in every horror movie", and tells us that (surprise!) the producers were very keen about having a sex scene at the very beginning of the film. The first track also features two of the lead actors, affable types who seem like guys you'd want to hang around with.

Sadly, most of the goodwill toward the filmmakers that had built up in my heart during the first commentary was dispelled by the second commentary. There were three participants in this commentary. One participant failed to show up for the taping, one didn't have much to add, and the third one, the director, seemed intent on repeating every bit of info he'd already shared in the first commentary track.

The "making of" piece, called "Wishmasterpiece Theatre" is good for exactly two laughs. One from the title, and one from the line "rather than actually crush the actor's hand, makeup is applied to simulate the effect."

Finally, for those who just can't get enough Wishmaster, there's the "Wishmaster Dating Guide."

DVD Rating: 4

If RevSF Film/DVD Editor Jason Myers had a box just for wishes, and dreams that had never come true, the box would be empty, except for the memory of how they were answered by you.

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